It probably won’t go anywhere, but a resolution asking the Alaska Board of Game to issue an emergency order for a setback for traps near trails and public roads within the Ketchikan Gateway Borough was approved Monday by the assembly.
The assembly listened to about 40 minutes of public comment, mostly related to the resolution. Nearly everyone who spoke about the trapping resolution supported it, and nobody actively opposed it.
Heather Muench is with the Ketchikan Humane Society board. She and other board members stood in support of the resolution.
“We are not anti-trapping, but we think there needs to be some restrictions,: she said. “One hundred and fifty feet from a trail or road is a very reasonable amount of space. It’s a public safety thing.”
Other speakers talked about their pets getting caught in traps while on trails and roads, and how challenging it is to release a pet from a trap. Some also spoke about almost getting caught in traps themselves. Others expressed concern about their children stepping in a trap hidden next to a trail.
About 30 people attended the meeting in support of the resolution.
The resolution was submitted by Assembly Member Judith McQuerry. It asks the state board to issue an emergency order limiting trapping in the Ketchikan area to no closer than 150 feet from public trails and roads.
An emergency order is requested because this year’s deadline to request a formal regulation change has passed. The state Board of Game meets this week in Petersburg, and the deadline to change its agenda also has passed, so the resolution might not even be considered. In addition, state Wildlife Biologist Ross Dorendorf told the assembly that the board generally considers “emergency orders” only if a problem arises that could affect the viability of a wildlife population.
So, again, the resolution likely won’t succeed with the state board. But the assembly wanted to make a statement. Here’s McQuerry:
“It may not meet their definition of emergency, but I very strongly feel that, at the very least, we need to let them know that this is a community concern for a broad section of the community and that what’s going on currently is not OK,” she said. “It’s not going to be acceptable.”
Assembly Member Rodney Dial agreed it does seem like a long shot with the state board, but there may be some benefit from taking this step.
“Assuming this is not going to go anywhere, I think it clearly communicates our intent to the citizens of the borough that although this may not be acted upon by the state, these are areas in our community where we’d not like to see that activity take place,” he said.
Dial offered a couple of amendments to clarify the language. Instead of “road,” he suggested “vehicular way or area,” which has a statutory definition. He also suggested that the borough list specific trails that would be affected.
Those amendments passed. The main motion then also passed in a unanimous vote.
There was some discussion about local laws to limit trapping. However, Borough Attorney Glenn Brown said the borough can’t regulate federal trails, even if they’re within borough boundaries. And, he said, trying to enforce a borough trapping law would be challenging.